Vancouver, BC (Variety) — For four glorious weeks in April and May, Fridays on VH1 belonged to “RuPaul's Drag Race.” First, viewers could watch the 90-minute episodes of the Emmy-winning reality show's 12th season, in which 13 drag queens (well, actually 12 — more on that later) compete to be crowned “America's next drag superstar.” Then they could take in a 90-minute episode of the four-part special “RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race,” in which three bold-faced names stepped into the show's workroom for full drag makeovers and the chance to win $30,000 for the charity of their choice. And then fans could stick around for “RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked,” the 30-minute aftershow in which the Season 12 queens dish, bitch, and throw copious shade while they wait for the main show's judges to deliberate on who should win that week, and who should be told to sashay away.
The three-and-a-half hours of weekly “Drag Race” content delivered record-breaking ratings for VH1, and represented the latest high watermark for a series that in the past year has taken an ambitious and risky leap into becoming a bona fide global franchise. Along with the mothership show, “Untucked,” the new “Secret Celebrity” edition, and the fifth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” premiering June 5 on VH1, a live stage version of “Drag Race” launched in Las Vegas in January (and is currently on COVID-19 hiatus), and two new international versions have joined the family: “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” last fall and “Canada’s Drag Race” this July.
That is just the beginning. Executive producer Fenton Bailey tells Variety that World of Wonder, the “Drag Race” production company he runs with his longtime business partner Randy Barbato, is currently developing seven — yep, seven — new international editions of the show.
“We’re excited,” Bailey says. “None of them can be announced yet, but there is more on the way.”
What is further on the horizon for “Drag Race,” meanwhile, remains stuck in the same coronavirus limbo as the rest of the entertainment industry — especially since seasons of “Drag Race” have traditionally shot during the preceding summer. But if the producers are worried, they’re not showing it.
“Whatever the iteration is, the new season will be on the air in 2021,” says Barbato. “We don’t have the date set. But we have no fear that no matter what the world deals us, we’ll be able to deliver a new season. … You know, ‘Drag Race’ is like Cher and cockroaches: You can never get rid of them.” — Adam B. Vary/@bluebay700